Can EMS Claim Workers’ Compensation in Delaware?

The selfless men and women in Delaware’s emergency medical services go out each and every day, rain or shine, to save lives and help others. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, these workers are truly the backbone of our society — and that is partially due to their capacity for self-sacrifice. If you are an EMS worker and you suffered an on-the-job injury, we want to help. Call Silverman, McDonald & Friedman to schedule a consultation at our Newark, Wilmington, or Seaford office.

Can EMS Claim Workers’ Compensation in Delaware?

Between long, grueling hours and close contact with the most contagious, EMS workers face a wide range of challenges and dangers on every shift, and they are fully aware of this. Just because they are aware of the risks does not mean they are on the hooks for the costs associated with any injuries or illnesses they are subject to on the job.

Not every state allows EMS workers of any sort to file for workers’ compensation, but Delaware does. In some cases, it even covers volunteer first responders, but you will need to check with your specific supervisor to see if that’s the case. First responders, EMTs, and most other EMS workers are also able to file a claim due to physical injuries, occupational illnesses, and even mental trauma Through the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding program. PTSD, depression, and anxiety are serious issues that can result from an occupation as harrowing as EMS, and they are all covered under Delaware’s laws.

Workers’ compensation is a no-fault temporary disability benefit program. It provides financial compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages due to recovery time, and any vocational rehabilitation services you need. Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may even be provided lump sum payments for any permanent loss of limb or sense. If something happens — especially during this pandemic — and you are unable to work due to a workplace injury or illness, you can make sure you can recover without losing a large portion of your life savings.

If you suffer an injury, make sure to get started on your claim right away. Inform your supervisor immediately – you only have a 90-day window to give your employer notice of a physical injury – and then seek medical attention, informing your doctor that your accident is work-related. This allows for them to make documentation that will help your case. Keep any and all documentation relating to your injuries or illness in a safe place, because you may have to undergo an independent medical exam (IME) with a doctor chosen by your employer’s insurance company, too.

Who is an EMS worker?

Emergency services workers and first responders are the people who keep our communities safe. They are the ones who answer the call when someone is hurt.  Any of the following are considered EMS:

  • Law enforcement
  • EMTs (emergency medical technicians)
  • Paramedics
  • Firefighters
  • Any medical professional that provides pre-hospital emergency care as part of their regular job duties

What dangers do EMS workers face on the job?

Every occupation has its own risks associated with it, from carpal tunnel syndrome to falling off a ladder. For the majority of these jobs, the possible accidents are fairly self-explanatory and understandable even to those who have never worked them. Those in the emergency medical services face more hidden dangers than the average person may realize, though.

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), “in 2019, there were an estimated 21,500 injuries and illnesses among EMS workers that were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments.” The CDC data does not include fatal injuries, so the numbers could be higher. Some fo the injury risks unique to EMS include:

  • Lifting patients and equipment
  • Treating and coming into close contact with infectious patients
  • Handling hazardous body substances, materials, and chemicals
  • Assisting with ground or air emergency transport of patients
  • Treating patients in dangerous situations (near a fire, on a busy highway, etc)
  • Working with violently resistant patients
  • Acts of violence, including gunshot wounds
  • Smoke, ash, and chemical inhalation
  • Burn injuries

Of course, EMS and first responders also suffer the same types of injuries that other workers do.  Strains and sprains were the most common diagnosis given to EMS workers, caused by overexertion, bodily reactions, or violence from another person. In fact, about 50% of all sprain and strain injuries were related to an interaction with another person of some sort. It may seem as though these are relatively minor injuries, but remember the data does not include fatal cases, and even a simple muscle strain can prevent someone from working for months. Those who suffer these injuries deserve to have a process in place for them. Luckily, in Delaware, they do.

What if my workers’ compensation claim is denied?

If your claim is denied, there is no need to panic. Consulting with a workers’ compensation attorney can give you a clear idea of the options available to you, including appealing your denial as many times as needed to get you the compensation you deserve. They are your benefits, and they are your right to have when you need them.

No team understands this like the Delaware workers’ compensation attorneys at Silverman, McDonald & Friedman. With our years of experience, we want to help you obtain the maximum benefits and compensation available so you can focus on getting better and getting your life back on track. We proudly serve our clients with offices in Wilmington, Newark, and Seaford, and we can proudly serve you too. To get started and learn more, call us today at 302-888-2900 or use our contact form.